Bariatric surgery is a life-changing decision and one that can lead to a much healthier, happier lifestyle. Many patients can have some side effects, the most prominent being acid reflux or Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Preventing acid reflux after bariatric surgery can be addressed in several ways.
What is Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is a digestive disease where stomach acid or bile irritates the esophagus lining. If this condition keeps occurring, it can evolve into a state known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Acid reflux and heartburn more than twice a week may indicate GERD.
GERD occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the esophagus and can irritate the lining of your esophagus. Many people experience acid reflux from time to time.
GERD is common among individuals with obesity and overweight problems. Visceral fat in the abdomen secretes inflammatory hormones that can cause. It can also be associated with the presence of a hiatal hernia. Be Slim Bariatrics’ team routinely looks for hernias in patients during surgery and repairs them if necessary.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux/GERD
While the terms heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD are used interchangeably, they have different meanings. Many symptoms caused by acid reflux can be very uncomfortable for those suffering from this health issue.
Symptoms include acid reflux, or GERD includes burning pain in the chest that usually occurs after eating and worsens when lying down. Heartburn is burning pain and discomfort that moves up from your stomach to the center of your abdomen, chest area, and sometimes, your neck. Despite its name, this does not in any way affect your heart.
How to Know if You Have Acid Reflux After Gastric Sleeve?
In some cases, acid reflux in patients that have had gastric sleeve surgery can result from some crucial missteps in how they are recovering. Overeating and not drinking enough after surgery can cause reflux symptoms.
Another possibility is that the individual had some form of reflux before the surgery, which aggravated the situation by reducing the amount of space for the stomach acid to reside. Whatever the case, it is vital that you seek medical attention if you experience any pain or discomfort, such as acid reflux.
When laying down, bending over or lifting a heavy object, or after eating a heavy meal, acid reflux may very well occur. The times you experience reflux symptoms can vary depending on personal circumstances. However, many do experience symptoms at night.
Preventing Acid Reflux After Bariatric Surgery
Once you have had weight loss surgery, overeating should be avoided. Most procedures modify your stomach so that it is significantly smaller than pre-surgery. Overeating post-op will cause distress and discomfort and prompt the stomach to produce more acid for digestion which can lead to reflux. Eating smaller, more frequent meals is an excellent step toward stopping acid reflux. Being aware of when your stomach is feeling full is also very important from here on out to know when it is an excellent time to stop.
Some signs of fullness include:
• A “tight” feeling in the stomach
• Runny nose
• Watering in the mouth or the eyes
Don’t Rush Your Meals
Eating too fast can have adverse effects on your new stomach. It can’t process foods as it used to, and you both need time to adjust. Practice mindful eating to stretch out how long it takes to finish a meal. Avoid eating in front of the TV and put the utensils between bites. Doing so allows the brain to process our eating and helps it stay in tune with the stomach to signal when to stop.
Skip the Fatty and Fried Foods and Alcohol
High fat and oil-based foods are classic GERD triggers. Instead, opt for air-fried or baked meals with lean protein and veggies. If oil is needed for a dish, keep your fats healthy with avocado and olive oil in recommended amounts. These small changes will allow for full-flavored meals without the unwanted triggers.
Alcohol can make your stomach produce more acid than usual. This irritates the stomach lining and can make your symptoms worse. It’s best to avoid alcohol, if possible, especially if you’re taking medications.
Lower Your Stress Levels
This one is hard just because of the busy life of the average person, but it is one of the most effective ways to prevent acid reflux. It’s not just the mind that feels stressed but the body too! Hormones are released when a person is under tension, which also affects digestion. Practice mindfulness and find ways to ease that stress. Your stomach will thank you for it!
Sleeping on the left side has the stomach below the esophagus versus sleeping on the right side, which leaves the stomach above the esophagus and can lead to potential leakage.
But what do you do when these options are not enough? Sometimes patients will need to take medication to ease their symptoms to feel more comfortable.
A common option is a drug known as …
Omeprazole is a drug that reduces the amount of acid your stomach makes. This is why it is the number one solution to treat indigestion and acid reflux. Sometimes, it’s also taken to prevent and treat stomach ulcers.
Omeprazole is taken once per day or as prescribed by your doctor. The drug comes in the form of capsules, tablets, and even a liquid you can swallow. All types of omeprazole are available on prescription. You can buy 20mg tablets from pharmacies and supermarkets. Omeprazole typically starts to work within 2 to 3 days, but it may take up to 4 weeks to work entirely in the system.
Sometimes, even with everything above, surgical intervention may be needed. Patients who have had gastric sleeve surgery are more likely to experience some of these difficulties. So they often choose to have a bariatric revision to change their sleeve to a gastric bypass.
The gastric bypass does not typically come with this set of potential complications, and patients, on average, report a significant reduction in symptoms and discomfort. This is usually a last resort, although a very effective one. If you feel it is time to revise your sleeve, don’t hesitate to contact one of Be Slim Bariatric coordinators. We are happy to assist you in scheduling an appointment with us.